70 episodes

Little-known histories from Central & Eastern Europe that changed our world...

Heard of how The Rolling Stones played for the Communist Party? The bear who fought in WWII? Or the man who single-handedly created an entire language?

Each episode of our narrative podcast tells incredible stories that all have one thing in common: the Eastern West.

#SFTEW

Stories From The Eastern West Culture.pl

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 16 Ratings

Little-known histories from Central & Eastern Europe that changed our world...

Heard of how The Rolling Stones played for the Communist Party? The bear who fought in WWII? Or the man who single-handedly created an entire language?

Each episode of our narrative podcast tells incredible stories that all have one thing in common: the Eastern West.

#SFTEW

    Aga Derlak

    Aga Derlak

    Aga Derlak remembers her fascination with music as a young child. And once she began learning piano, she would lose hours in flowing through improvised journeys at the keyboard. This passion led her to gaining a place on the year-long Berklee Global Jazz Institute program. And in this interview, she discusses the impact that has had on many levels of her life. The founder of the project, pianist Danilo Perez, who is part of the incredible Wayne Shorter quartet was a particular influence and led Aga to work at Danilo's foundation in his homeland of Panama. You get the sense that her own beliefs about the healing power of music, and the role of musicians and music education in our society really blossomed during this time, through conversations with her tutors and peers at Berklee, and also her pupils, some of whom were part of a social program in Panama City. 

    Aga has led her own trio and quintet and like the other rebel spirits has been invited to play at numerous jazz festivals. As she explains in her interview, travel takes on a real meaning in her life, and has directed her development as an artist. The piece she talks about, Tempo, is from her forthcoming album Parallel and includes her own vocals and those of her sister Basia Derlak. With lyrics from a poem that Aga wrote, we can hear about her attention to detail, theme and flavor, and her thoughts about the possibilities of time. Tempo. A project that is a good indicator of Aga’s personality is Your Solo, exploring Polish jazz. This was her proactive reaction to the restriction of lockdown during the pandemic. She wanted to highlight the work of Polish jazz musicians such as herself, who could no longer tour or perform. Aga set about playing their compositions and interviewing these musicians. Putting everything online. The positive focus is typical of how she's able to acknowledge the darkness that descends on life but uses her determination to be constructive. Interestingly, she refers to the different sides of her character and how that comes through her music in this interview.

    • 26 min
    Marek Pędziwiatr

    Marek Pędziwiatr

    In Marek Pędziwiatr there is a connection between the past and the present. The history of jazz and the African American musicians, who created it, and Polish innovators from Chopin through Krzysztof Komeda and Niemen. Marek is a hub, a central force pulling his golden threads of jazz, hip-hop, classical music, avant-garde, and Slavic folk. But his interest in weaving these genres together is driven by the human experience. 
    Marek is an award-winning musician and composer now based in Wrocław. His background in the 90s scene of sampling, rapping, and beat music has blossomed into a sophisticated and authentic jazz that crosses boundaries. He is co-founder of the trio Night Marks, the avant-garde improvised music collective Błoto, and EABS (Electro-Acoustic Beat Sessions). He has played with an incredible array of international musicians and his production work includes producing with Michał Urbaniak, a major figure in jazz fusion, on albums such as “Beats and Pieces” by Urbanator Days. 
    Like Michał, emotion is a vital aspect in every piece that Marek composes. The identification of this almost mystical quality of melancholy in Slavic culture, explored by generations of Polish artists, also fascinates Marek. And in the interview, he speaks about the importance of feeling in the music he is drawn to. And how he developed the opening of the composition he discusses from his album Slavic Spirits from 2019. 
    Stories of his own ancestry, poetic symbols, philosophies, and the expression of the complex emotion of being human run parallel to other incentives in his music. There is a deep learning he has gained through the tributes EABS has made such as the “Memorial to Miles” at the Jazz Festival in Kielce in 2015 and the unique Sun Ra with EABS’ album “Discipline of Sun Ra” in 2020. There is a clear celebration of these influences and their ability to simply communicate the human spirit in Marek’s music and in his eloquent way of speaking about it. 
    Music from the episode Przywitanie Słońca from the EABS album ‘Slavic Spirits’’
    Further reading EABS / bio on Culture.pl Marek Pędziwiatr debuts as Latarnik in a piano solo story of remembrance and passing / on Twistedsouldmusic.org Further watching EABS meets JAUBI /  on YouTube.com Jazz.pl: EABS  / on Culture.pl New Polish Jazz: Ones To Watch - Marek Pędziwiatr / on Facebook.com Credits This episode of Rebel Spirits was hosted by Debra Richards. The show is brought to you by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
    Written and produced by Magdalena Stępień & Wojciech Oleksiak
    Executive production by Move Me Media
    Edited by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Design by Dawid Ryski
    Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Copyrights The publisher would like to thank all copyright owners for their kind permission to reproduce their material. Should, despite our intensive research, any person entitled to rights have been overlooked, legitimate claims shall be compensated within the usual provisions.

    • 30 min
    Joanna Duda

    Joanna Duda

    To describe Joanna Duda as simply a pianist doesn't capture the extraordinary dimensions of the music she produces. Whether touching a broken keyboard, using the sound of a rewinding tape machine, or mixing in field recordings, her innate playfulness allows any instrument to blossom - you get a sense that one of her greatest strengths is to listen attentively to whatever she uses. Joanna is also an incredible editor, cutting and mixing with bold and surprising artfulness.
    It was a friend of the family who played electric bass in the band Kombi that first caught her attention and before she could even string a sentence together she would sit with a piece of wood pretending it was a bass. Like many of the Rebel Spirits, she is classically trained and has been influenced by both Baroque and minimalism. Part of her heritage is Chopin, of course, but it's also her parents' vinyl collection which included plenty of funk and jazz rock and there is often a groove that emerges in her work. 
    Be it leading the duo J=J, which is when she first came to my attention, or her current trio with Michał Bryndal and Max Mucha, on drums and bass, or playing solo, there is an essence which is clearly Duda. Finding her flow with collaborators is always uppermost and she found that recently with French horn player Morris Kliphuis from the Netherlands. Their project Wake the Dead is for electronics, improvisation, and a Baroque ensemble and premiers in October. 
    Alongside her love of communication between musicians, she has begun to appreciate a form of creativity that requires her to dig into herself as opposed to reacting to what is coming at her from the outside. Reading, traveling and connecting to nature are part of her current evolution and in this interview, she eloquently describes the ideas that inform her process. 
    Music from the episode ‘Grasshopper’ by Joanna Duda Trio from the ‘Fumitsuke’ album 
    Further reading Joanna Duda / bio on Culture.pl Joanna Duda’s website  Further watching 'Grasshopper' music video / on YouTube Joanna Duda Trio in concert / on YouTube Joanna Duda in concert / on YouTube Credits This episode of Rebel Spirits was hosted by Debra Richards. The show is brought to you by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
    Written and produced by Monika Proba
    Edited by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Executive production by Move Me Media
    Edited by Monika Proba
    Design by Dawid Ryski
    Scoring & sound design by Monika Proba

    • 25 min
    Kuba Więcek

    Kuba Więcek

    In the history of jazz, there haven't been many musicians that give credit to their playing video games. But as a nine-year-old hardcore player, Kuba Więcek developed an affinity with repetitive practice and now feels the need for strategic thinking and fast decision-making has stood him in good stead as a bandleader today. After a pivotal moment as a teenager, which he talks about in the interview, when he improvised on his saxophone for the first time, his 10 hour-a-day, video gaming habit switched to music study. I particularly like musicians that approach jazz in an open and authentic way. It's not historical music. Jazz has always been an expression of emotion in the present moment, reflecting the social, political, and cultural atmospheres around us. That's what improvisation is. I think it's also worth noting that Kuba attended the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen of which I'm a big fan. Some of the most exciting artists like bass player, Petter Eldh, and vocalist Lucia Cadotsch studied there. We live in an era of many, many musics. And conservatories like this one in Denmark encourage the exploration of anything and everything. Whether it's Ornette Coleman, or Kanye West, Tomasz Stanko or Bjork. Kuba reveals he has that curiosity which is so vital to creativity. On a trip to New York, he bought some portable synthesizers and took to them as he had done his video games. And when you hear the interview, you'll get a sense of how experimentation is at the heart of his approach and relationship to which is also key to jazz. The interplay between musicians. In this case with his trio of Michał Barański and  Łukasz Żyta, carving new paths in any art will always have its critics. And these new waves of jazz artists face exclusion from jazz record labels and venues and festivals. When Więcek’s first album, Another Raindrop was released in the renowned Polish Jazz series, there was a backlash. There were comments about his youth and playing skills. And yet the album won two prestigious awards for best jazz debut. You will hear Kuba weaving in stories of his background, his working methods, and what he's drawn to. You sense he has a quiet confidence and belief in what he is doing. But like all of the best artists, his commitment is to the music and not himself.
    Music from the episode Jazz Robots by Kuba Więcek Trio feat. Marcin Masecki from the album “Multitasking”
    Further reading Kuba Więcek / bio on Culture.pl Further watching Jazz Robots music video  / on YouTube Kuba Więcek & Piotr Orzechowski live performance / on YouTube Kuba Więcek Trio live  / on YouTube Credits This episode of Rebel Spirits was hosted by Debra Richards. The show is brought to you by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
    Written and produced by Monika Proba
    Executive production by Move Me Media
    Edited by Monika Proba
    Design by Dawid Ryski
    Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Copyrights The publisher would like to thank all copyright owners for their kind permission to reproduce their material. Should, despite our intensive research, any person entitled to rights have been overlooked, legitimate claims shall be compensated within the usual provisions.

    • 19 min
    Marcin Masecki

    Marcin Masecki

    Marcin Masecki considers that he has two parents, jazz and classical music. As a pianist, he is steeped in the tradition of learning piano as a young child with all the purity and precision that comes with that. In this interview, you get the sense of how that triggered Marcin’s disruptive streak, and how that has been central to his approach to music. There is reverence and intellectual rebellion. Like many accomplished musicians, there is music in his family. Marcin has spoken of his grandmother teaching him piano exercises, and it was on her vintage Steinway that he recorded his album, Die Kunst der Fuge: Bach/Masecki, with a dictaphone. Yes, with a dictaphone. In fact, this is a key point, because Marcin’s appreciation of the imperfect, the broken, and the cult of the Lo-Fi is what brings his soulfulness and natural feel for music to the fore. Such qualities can set musicians apart. Marcin has worked in many contexts, and there's a clear sense from his career, that it's important for him to be free to change his setup. He has recorded solo in a duo and sextet, in bands of nine and 10, as well as big bands. He's released classical jazz and alternative pop music, and even an album of Polish Carols sung in Arabic. In this interview, he focuses on his album of Polonaises. Using a 10-piece band, Marcin hoped to integrate this historical national dance of Poland with jazz and a bit of attitude, once again, bringing forward his appreciation of the defective and the unsettling. There is a picture of the complex journey this musician is on, one in which he continually challenges himself again and again. It's a fascinating insight into this artist.
    Music from the episode Deuxième Grand Polonaise from Marcin Masecki’s album ‘Polonezy’
    Further reading Marcin Masecki / bio on Culture.pl Further watching Masecki/Młynarski Big Band / on YouTube.com Masecki/Rogiewicz Duo at Adam Mickiewicz Institute / on Culture.pl Masecki plays Scarlatti / on YouTube.com Credits This episode of Rebel Spirits was hosted by Debra Richards. The show is brought to you by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
    Written and produced by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Executive production by Move Me Media
    Edited by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Design by Dawid Ryski
    Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Copyrights The publisher would like to thank all copyright owners for their kind permission to reproduce their material. Should, despite our intensive research, any person entitled to rights have been overlooked, legitimate claims shall be compensated within the usual provisions.

    • 27 min
    CHAIN

    CHAIN

    In the very last episode of Stories of The Eastern West as you knew it, we’re taking you to Estonia, 1989. A group of people there made 2 million others hold hands and create a human chain of unprecedented size and significance.

    The Baltic countries had a truly turbulent 20th century. They went from regaining their independence to losing it to the USSR and becoming subject to a ruthless policy of Russification. Unsurprisingly, they needed something big to jump on the bandwagon of the 1989 peaceful revolutions that liberated several countries from the USSR’s influence. 
    What they came up with was a human chain linking Tallinn with Riga and Vilnius. This huge event is something hard to wrap one’s head around nowadays when we think about the scanty means of communication the organisers had. 
    Our producer Wojciech went to Estonia and got a chance to talk to several people who co-organised or participated in the event. How was it at all possible? Why wasn’t it thwarted by the communist regime? How do people remember such a defining moment in their lives over 30 years later?
    Further listening
    KAIE / our episode from our mini-series The Final Curtain about ‘The Singing Revolution’ that Adam mentions in the show Further reading
    The Longest Unbroken Human Chain In History / an article on estonianworld.com All the human chains in one place / an article on wikipedia.org Further watching
    The Inimitable Baltic Way / a Lithuanian documentary Thanks
    Ivi Gubinska, Reet Villig, Eve Sildnik, Andres Tarand and Lukas Hioo for taking the time to discuss this incredible event with us. Keiu Telve and Maia-Liisa Anton for connecting us with Baltic Way participants and their thoughtful discussions about the meaning of the event.  Credits
    Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak
    Edited by Adam Zulawski & Nitzan Reisner
    Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
    Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak

    • 25 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

zski5 ,

Really interesting!

Highly recommended!

Waiel Al-Nour ,

Surprisingly good

An incredibly interesting mixture of history and culture. Really well crafted as well with sound design that makes great use of the format. All in these beautiful snippets that mean I can listen to one whole ep on my journey into work.

wandalightspeed ,

Awesome podcast

This was such a great show! I'd never been interested in Europe much but this was so fricking cool and epic. Bring on the next ep!

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